Spreading cheer with our Covid-free highlights of the year

Wicked Swiss: Spitzbuben biscuits baked in Boston SWI / Susan Misicka

2020 has been a year to forget for most people in Switzerland. However, before we sweep it under the disinfected rug, here’s a reminder that it hasn’t all been bad: a colourful collection of some of our most interesting and most popular stories from the past 12 months.

This content was published on December 31, 2020 - 11:00

From cleantech to dirty gold, and from a surprising breakdown of Swiss salaries to a guide to becoming Swiss, sit back and enjoy a stroll down a multimedia memory lane.

Did you know that 10% of Swiss citizens don’t live in Switzerland? We travelled around the world (pre-pandemic) and visited some fascinating expats, hearing their stories and experiences – positive and negative. In this video, one of several filmed in the United States, a couple from Lucerne explain how they ended up baking in Boston.

Heading down to South America, in January we published a special report into Switzerland’s ethically complex relationship with dirty gold. We spoke to locals and miners – and burly security guards – in the Peruvian Amazon, where gold is extracted and sent to refineries and banks in Switzerland.

When it comes to rich countries, many people immediately think of Switzerland. However, in one of our most-read non-Covid articles of the year we examined why high Swiss salaries aren’t always as impressive as they first appear.

High salaries are often a reason why Swiss citizenship is so highly sought after – and correspondingly tricky to acquire. This entertaining video explains the three ways of becoming Swiss.

You certainly needed a high salary to make films in 1896, and fortunately that’s what the director of Basel’s first film had. What looks like a spontaneous scene is in fact meticulously choreographed. But why? Marvel at the extraordinary colourised version of a part of cinematic history.

What the people on that bridge would have made of electric planes is anyone’s guess. In October we hopped aboard the world’s first certified electric aircraft, which had recently completed its maiden flight in Switzerland, to find out what air travel of the future might feel like.

Technology is of course just a tool – what people do with it is another, often worrying, question. As deepfakes – digitally tweaked images, videos or audio – grow increasingly sophisticated, we looked at the risks they pose and what Swiss experts are doing to stop them.

From deepfakes to inconvenient truths. In the 19th century young Swiss men helped carry out the dirty work of foreign colonial forces in Asia and Africa. While the role of Swiss mercenaries in Europe is well known, researchers this year uncovered documents that tell us more about their exploits in exotic lands.

Swiss mercenaries also played a central role in the diagnosis of nostalgia and homesickness, which features in SWI’s recently relaunched podcast, The Swiss ConnectionExternal link. In a three-part series, one of our journalists describes his very personal journey into the history of nostalgia.

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